From Bioproducts Update, by Owen Roberts
First, local food. And now, local plastic.
Last week, agricultural diversity took another step forward when the first Canadian-grown, agricultural-fibre bio-composite commercialized for consumer markets was announced.
The bio-composite material, which will be used in the plastic moulding industry to make products such as bins and flower pots, is made from non-food biomass fibres. The technology to produce it was developed at the University of Guelph’s Bioproducts Discovery and Development Centre, an interdisciplinary unit where plant biologists, chemists and engineers converge to investigate and commercialize biomaterials.
Competitive Green Technologies of Leamington, Ont., acquired a 10-year exclusive North American licence for the technology. The company’s focus is compounding bio-composite resins with up to 30 per cent agricultural non-food and non-forest crops and co-products of biomass industry, and adding value to post-consumer and post-industrial agricultural film.
“This is truly a harbinger of the development of a local bio-economy — close to where the ag fibres are grown,” says company president Mike Tiessen. “It will set the stage for agri-innovation and help Canadian agriculture to integrate with the manufacturing sector, improve environmental sustainability and support an emerging bio-economy.”
Ottawa provided Competitive Green Technologies with a loan to purchase and install production equipment to produce the bio-compounds. Such materials are slowly starting to appear in the industry. For example, a “bio-bin” created two years ago at the centre in Guelph is being used in the retail sector in Canada. As well, biomaterials have been used for manufacturing storage compartments in the Ford Flex.
“This innovative Canadian-developed technology will enable producers to find new markets and add value to their products, boosting their bottom line,” says Dave Van Kesteren, MP for Chatham-Kent-Essex.